Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

Toronto Blue Jays trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Twins Claim Kenny Wilson From Blue Jays

The Twins have claimed outfielder Kenny Wilson off waivers from the Blue Jays, the club announced. Wilson, 24, has yet to see MLB action.

Interestingly enough, Wilson hit the waiver wire after being designated for assignment by the Jays in order to make room for the claim of fellow outfielder Darin Mastroianni from Minnesota. In effect, then, the clubs swapped the two players.

In Wilson, Minnesota is adding a toolsy player with upside who seemingly still needs some time to develop. The 22nd ranked prospect in the Jays system entering the year, according to Baseball America, Wilson has not yet mastered Double-A. He started there this year after a solid (if unspectacular) run in his first go at that level at age 23. According to the Twins’ announcement, Wilson will begin his time with the Twins at that level as well.


Blue Jays Claim Darin Mastroianni, Designate Kenny Wilson

The Blue Jays have claimed outfielder Darin Mastroianni off waivers from the Twins, the club announced via press release. To make room on the 40-man roster, Toronto designated fellow outfielder Kenny Wilson for assignment.

Mastroianni originally came to Minnesota from the Jays via waiver claim in February of 2012, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes on Twitter. The 28-year-old has not produced much in limited MLB time since,: he possesses a .220/.228/.295 career line, virtually all of which has come with the Twins. Mastroianni is known for his ability to get on base: he has a lifetime .372 OBP at both the Double-A and Triple-A level, having spent parts of four seasons at each.

Wilson, 24, has yet to see time in the bigs or the highest level of the minors. He is off to a slow start at Double-A (.210/.239/.306 in 68 plate appearances) after putting up a .259/.333/.375 line with 16 stolen bases in 242 plate appearances in his first stint at that level last year. Wilson opened the year at the 22nd spot on Baseball America’s list of the team’s prospects. The speedy center fielder is said to have starter upside if he can translate his tools into production.


AL East Notes: Ichiro, Tigers, Cervelli, Blue Jays

A year ago, Jon Lester was coming off a poor season and his long-term future in Boston looked in doubt.  Now, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes, Lester has rebuilt his career following a rebound season and another World Series ring, and it seems he's in position for a nine-figure contract from either the Red Sox or another club as a free agent next winter.  Lester and the Sox have discussed an extension, and Lauber notes that the Sox (for all their promising young arms on the farm) have nobody who can replace Lester's 200 innings in 2015, so the club needs their star southpaw back.

Here's the latest from around the AL East…

  • Yankees officials tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Tigers haven't asked about Ichiro Suzuki in the wake of Andy Dirks' injury.  Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Sherman that his team is "not actively seeking a big move," though they haven't decided if they'll use an internal or external player to platoon with Rajai Davis in left.
  • Ichiro, for his part, had "nothing to say about" the subject of whether or not he would want to play for another team that could offer him more regular playing time.  “But as far as being part of [trade rumors], when I first came to New York, I knew it was something that happens here," Suzuki said.  "You have to be emotionally ready and prepare yourself for it."
  • Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli seems somewhat torn between his desire for more playing time and his desire to remain with the Yankees.  "I’ve been here forever. I don’t have that answer right now because this is, I feel like, my house," Cervelli told reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.  "But if somebody wants me to go over there, I’ve got to make the adjustment. I told you guys many times that my dream is to be a starting catcher. Right now, my role is a backup. That’s what I’m playing for. But I’m never going to stop because an opportunity is going to come again."  Cervelli has drawn interest from several teams (including the White Sox and Diamondbacks) as one of Yankees' backup catchers could be traded to bring infield help to the Bronx.
  • The Blue Jays' lack of success in obtaining starting pitching this offseason leads Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi to re-evaluate the team's decisions to not tender a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson and to pass on a potential trade for Brett Anderson due to medical concerns.
  • According to some Red Sox players, Stephen Drew regrets not accepting Boston's $14.1MM qualifying offer, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports.  Drew has lingered on the free agent market in his search for a multiyear deal, and while the possibility of returning to the Sox as a veteran alternative for Xander Bogaerts or Will Middlebrooks seemed to have potential earlier this winter, the club seems to have moved on.  Red Sox veterans, Abraham writes, no longer feel the team needs to re-sign Drew after seeing how Middlebrooks has conducted himself during Spring Training.
  • No matter how well the Rays perform on the field or how much they spend on payroll, Cork Gaines of Rays Index notes that the team can't seem to top an average of 23,000 fans per game at Tropicana Field. Gaines speculates that even a World Series title could only bump the Rays over that 23K attendance threshold for a season or two, at most.


Reactions To And Fallout From Ervin Santana Signing

Addressing his team's sudden and successful entry into the market for starter Ervin Santana, Braves GM Frank Wren said that he did not expect to be in the market for free agent starters, but felt Santana was the best option available going into the offseason. (Video of press conference via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.) It was Atlanta's good fortune that Santana remained unsigned when Kris Medlen walked off the mound with an injury on Sunday. Wren immediately made contact, knowing that he had to catch up quickly with other clubs further down the road on talks with Santana. "Once we started talking, we realized that Ervin was very interested in us as well, thought this was a good opportunity for him, and it was a perfect fit for us." 

  • For Atlanta, the message to the field staff and players was clear. "[The signing] means our GM and our front office want to win," manager Fredi Gonzalez said, as MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets.
  • The key for Santana was his desire to pitch in the National League, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos confirmed, saying that he was told Santana "had a strong desire to pitch in the NL and there was no way to compete with that." (MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm provides a transcript of Anthopoulos's chat with the media today.) The GM also emphasized that he was "very comfortable we did everything we could" to land Santana, who the club "viewed … as an impact starter." Anthopoulos implied some disappointment with the way things unfolded, declining comment on several questions about reports that a deal was done last Saturday by saying that he was "trying to take the high road here." 
  • From the Twins' perspective, most talks were "very exploratory," assistant GM Rob Antony told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press"I think what they were looking at and were looking for was different from what we were thinking," explained Antony. "… We weren't necessarily looking for a one-year guy."
  • Meanwhile, the Royals' short run with Santana is now officially over, but the team feels fine about how things worked out, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter"I think Erv's going to do very well," GM Dayton Moore said, "and we're going to get the pick. And it all worked out." Indeed it did: K.C. got a valuable draft choice and excellent season from Santana, all for the low price of $12MM and the rights to minor league lefty Brandon Sisk.

Ervin Santana Rumors: Tuesday

Here's the latest on Ervin Santana, whose free agency situation has been the most active in recent days among the three still-unsigned players who declined qualifying offers:

  • The Braves are "making [a] legitimate run" to sign Santana, a source tells Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter). 

Earlier Updates

  • Santana could be expanding the search for possible landing spots, reports Ken Rosethal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). An executive from an interested team told Rosenthal that Santana's representatives were "talking to everyone."
  • The Orioles are standing by their previously-reported, one-year offer of around $13MM, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. A source tells Encina that the O's had been in touch with Santana's reps late this afternoon, and that Santana is likely to choose a destination within the next day or two.
  • The Orioles and Blue Jays still look like the favorites, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Santana's interest in a one-year deal is genuine, reports Heyman, with the righty being motivated to prove himself on the field.
  • Indeed, as MLBTR's Steve Adams noted earlier this morning, if Santana signs a one-year pact and throws well enough to earn another qualifying offer, he would stand to make nearly as much in two years as he could on the three-year offers he has reportedly received in the low-$30MM range. Or, he might find the substantial, multi-year deal that has seemingly eluded him to date. It bears recalling that Scott Feldman managed to get three years at a $10MM AAV earlier in the offseason, and that more comparable arms like Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez landed $50MM guarantees over four years. Betting on another good season and a market reset carries risk, but accepting a lesser multi-year deal would pretty much ensure that Santana could not reach his full earning potential. 
  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette called Santana's market "interesting," with more possible teams seemingly entering the fray as injuries change roster complexions.
  • We learned that Braves starter Kris Medlen is getting a second opinion, but his MRI shows ligament damage. Atlanta has definitely been in touch with Santana, the same report provided.

Braves Could Make Run At Ervin Santana

7:26pm: After throwing a 2-inning simulated game today, Santana may still wait a day or two before choosing a destination, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (Twitter links, in Spanish). 

The Braves are indeed very interested, with financial concerns the main limitation. Meanwhile, the Royals have put in a call on Santana. The Blue Jays and Orioles have standing offers out, Rojas adds.

2:21pm: O'Brien hears from a person connected to the Royals that the Braves may now be making a run at Santana (Twitter link). In addition to Medlen's injury, Brandon Beachy left today's Spring Training start with biceps tightness.

10:17am: The Braves haven't completely ruled out Santana in the event of a serious Medlen injury, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, but the financial and draft pick costs are definite factors. Atlanta would very much like to strengthen its crop of top prospects, and sacrificing the No. 26 selection in the draft would go against that thinking.

9:19am: Over the weekend it was reported that Ervin Santana has completely changed course and is now seeking a one-year deal with an eye toward a lucrative multi-year deal next offseason. With one-year offers of $13MM plus incentives and $14MM without incentives from the Orioles and Blue Jays, respectively, there appear to be a pair of clear favorites for Santana.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides some updates on the Santana sweepstakes this morning, noting that the Blue Jays' players are lobbying for Santana to come to Toroto. Santana has many friends on the club, including countrymen Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes. One source told Rosenthal that several Jays players got together and texted Santana a picture of themselves holding a poster that read, "Come to Toronto."

One potentially game-changing factor to the Santana market could be the severity of the injury to Braves right-hander Kris Medlen, who left Sunday's Spring Training game with a forearm strain. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution touched on the topic this morning, wondering if the Braves could consider expanding their budget to bring him into the fold. Rosenthal writes that the Braves will get the results of an MRI on Medlen today. The draft pick loss wouldn't be as big for the Braves as some teams around the league, as Atlanta would surrender the No. 26 selection after already having received the No. 32 selection for losing Brian McCann to free agency. That forfeiture, however, would be the most significant of the specific teams mentioned in Rosenthal's piece.

Rosenthal also has some specifics on recent offers made to Santana; the Orioles' last three-year offer was believed to be in the $27MM range, while the three-year offer from the Twins was in the $30-33MM range. That offer was still on the table as of last night. However, as Rosenthal notes, Santana could earn nearly that much over the next two seasons by taking $14MM or so in 2014 and receiving a qualifying offer following the season, as next year's QO could jump to the $15-16MM range.


Minor Moves: Martinez, Erbe, Liz, Olmsted

Here are some minor moves from around the league…

  • The Angels have signed righty Joe Martinez to a minor league pact, per the club's official transactions page. The 31-year-old Martinez made a pair of appearances for the Indians last season, allowing one run in five innings. He has a 5.82 ERA in 55 2/3 career innings between the Giants, D'Backs, Pirates and Indians and a 4.75 ERA in 548 Triple-A innings. 
  • Right-hander Brandon Erbe has signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, according to the team's transactions page. Erbe, 26, ranked as the game's No. 27 prospect heading into the 2007 season, per Baseball Prospectus, but 2010 shoulder surgery has stalled his once-promising career. The former third-round pick has thrown just 45 minor league innings over the past three seasons as he's battled back from a torn labrum. 
  • The Blue Jays signed right-hander Radhames Liz to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy tweeted this weekend. The 30-year-old was once among the game's Top 100 prospects, per BA, but hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2009. Liz has spent the past three seasons pitching for the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization and led the league in strikeouts last season with 188. However, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported (via Twitter) that he'll begin the season rehabbing a knee injury. Liz had a 7.50 ERA in 110 1/3 Major League innings with the Orioles from 2007-09.
  • Brewers senior director of media relations Mike Vassallo tweets that the club has released right-hander Michael Olmsted. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke with manager Ron Roenicke about the decision to release the 6'6", 282-pound right-hander. Roenicke said they simply wanted to give Olmsted a chance to get an opportunity elsewhere rather than releasing him later in the spring. Olmsted posted a 5.88 ERA in 59 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Brew Crew last season, but the 26-year-old has an excellent 3.02 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in his minor league career.

Out Of Options Players: AL East

The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options.  That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so.  I've included players on multiyear deals.  This list was compiled through MLBTR's sources.  Today, we'll take a look at the AL East.

Blue Jays: Brett Cecil, Jeremy Jeffress, Luis Perez, Esmil Rogers, Sergio Santos, Todd Redmond, Moises Sierra

Back on February 20th, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke about beginning the season with an eight-man bullpen, as they did in 2013, partially because of the desire not to lose a player, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm.  Cecil, Santos, Casey Janssen, Steve Delabar, and Aaron Loup are the locks.

Perez has already been sent to minor league camp, with the Jays expected to buy some time by putting him on the DL to start the season.  Dustin McGowan is under contract on a multiyear deal, and was not listed above because he has over seven years of big league service.  Still, the Jays will have to find a spot if they wish to retain him, and they probably will.  McGowan, Rogers, Redmond, and Jeffress are part of the fifth starter competition, as outlined by Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star on Friday.  In theory, all four could be retained: one in the rotation, the other three filling out the bullpen.  That scenario would involve sending Neil Wagner and other solid pitchers to Triple-A, establishing strong depth but perhaps not putting the team's best 13 pitchers on the Opening Day roster.  A trade would be another way to find some breathing room.  The Jays are known to be in the mix for Ervin Santana, who would take a rotation spot and have a ripple effect on the above-named players.

Sierra seems to have a good shot at the team's last bench spot partially because of his lack of minor league options.  It's another case where making the decision to retain the player might be less than ideal, as Sierra would have to be the team's fourth outfielder over the defensively superior Anthony Gose.  Sierra would also platoon at DH with Adam Lind and could pitch in at first base, however.

Orioles: Edgmer Escalona, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Kelvin De La Cruz, David Lough, Brian Matusz, Steve Pearce, Francisco Peguero, Josh Stinson

The Orioles' list includes a staggering 13 players.  Let's start with the team's rotation.  We can project three members with certainty: Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, and Wei-Yin Chen.  At this moment, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris would grab the two remaining spots.  Two of the above-named pitchers, Britton and Matusz, had been among those competing for the fifth starter job before Jimenez was signed.  Further muddying the picture, as explained by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun today, is the pursuit of Ervin Santana.  Additionally, Suk-min Yoon and Johan Santana will come into play later in the season.

Connolly notes that Norris or Gonzalez could move to the bullpen if necessary.  Hunter, Darren O'Day, Ryan Webb, and Matusz seem to be locks for the pen.  A 25-game amphetamine suspension for Patton takes him out of the picture for most of April.  That leaves Escalona, De La Cruz, Britton, and Stinson as out of options pitchers competing for three likely spots, with Steve Johnson, Alfredo Aceves, T.J. McFarland, and Evan Meek also in the mix.  You may recall the Orioles were loose with 40-man roster spots in the offseason, giving them to Escalona, De La Cruz, and Peguero despite scant big league experience.  Retaining them now requires putting them on the 25-man roster.  This situation seems to call for a trade or two.

As the backup center fielder, Lough is assured a spot on the roster.  The Cruz signing takes away at-bats from Reimold, but he still seems likely to make the team.  Peguero or Pearce could take the final roster spot, but only by beating out the other candidates in camp, such as Delmon Young, Xavier Paul, Julio Borbon, Quintin Berry, and Henry Urrutia.  There seems a good chance Peguero or Pearce is exposed to waivers; perhaps both.  Again, a minor trade could make sense in the coming weeks.

Rays: Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos, Matt Joyce, Chris Archer, Josh Lueke, Brandon Guyer

Archer is a lock for the Rays' rotation, while Ramos is battling pitchers such as Erik Bedard, Jake Odorizzi, Nate Karns, and Alex Colome for the fifth starter job until Jeremy Hellickson's projected late May return.  If he doesn't win the job, Ramos would go back to the Rays' bullpen.

McGee is a lock for a bullpen job, as are Grant Balfour, Heath Bell, and Joel Peralta.  Juan Carlos Oviedo has yet to report to camp due to visa issues, but he's expected to take a spot as well.  If Ramos doesn't win the rotation job, that leaves one potential opening for Lueke.  Late last month, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times named Brad Boxberger, Brandon Gomes, and Mark Lowe as other candidates, choosing Lueke as the favorite given his option situation.

Joyce is a lock for a roster spot.  If the Rays go with a traditional fifth outfielder, Guyer could snag the job, as Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune explained late last month.  The team could also use Sean Rodriguez or Ben Zobrist as the fifth outfielder. 

Red Sox: Mike Carp, Felix Doubront 

Doubront is penciled into Boston's rotation.  Carp has a bench spot locked down, though he did pop up in recent trade rumors.

Yankees: Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova

Nova is a key piece of the Yankees' rotation, while Cervelli is highly likely to break camp as the backup catcher.


Morosi’s Latest: Jays, Tigers, Rockies, Pineda, JDA

In his latest notes column for FOXSports.com, Jon Paul Morosi spoke with several Blue Jays players, including Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie, about the team's chemistry and whether or not it played a role in their disappointing 2013 campaign. Bautista said that it wasn't a problem, but the team will benefit in 2014 from having spent a year together. Morosi writes that the Jays' players are paying particularly close attention to the level of resources (dollars) ownership is willing to allocate to a potential Ervin Santana signing. Here are some highlights from Morosi's piece…

  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Morosi on Sunday, via email, that the club is "looking at [its] own personnel" and "will continue to evaluate" outside alternatives for left field in the wake of Andy Dirks' injury. Non-roster invitees Ezquiel Carrera and Trevor Crowe will compete for a spot to platoon with Rajai Davis, though neither has been impressive thus far in Spring Training.
  • The Cardinals could've lined up as a trade partner for Dombrowski had Oscar Taveras been fully healthy, as he could've served as more of a challenge to Jon Jay's spot in Spring Training. Taveras has played in just two games at this point, however.
  • Morosi also hears that the Rockies aren't looking to trade an outfielder and haven't had discussions about doing so, even though it may be tough to fit Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson on the Opening Day roster. Either left-handed hitter would be a logical target for Detroit to pursue should Colorado change its mind.
  • Michael Pineda could give the Yankees a playoff-caliber rotation if he's able to pitch a full season, Morosi writes. He spoke with Yankees catcher Brian McCann, who recalled feeling uncomfortable when facing Pineda in 2011 and has been encouraged by his work in Spring Training thus far.
  • MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told Morosi that the union and MLB continue to discuss potential changes to the Joint Drug Agreement that could take effect for the 2014 season. Clark has received "extensive" feedback from players on whether stiffer penalties are needed, including opinions on the 50-game suspension for first-time offenders.

Ervin Santana Rumors: Sunday

It was reported yesterday Ervin Santana is weighing one year offers from both the Blue Jays ($14MM) and Orioles ($13MM plus incentives) with two other clubs also expressing interest. Here's the latest on the top ranked free agent remaining on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list:

  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko (Twitter), GM Dan Duquette told him nothing is imminent on the Santana front.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes the Twins offered Santana a three-year deal, but he prefers a one-year contract unless someone is willing go four years at his asking price.
  • With all this recent action on Santana, Heyman tweets it may take a few days for the situation to resolve itself adding both the Blue Jays and Orioles have made strong one-year proposals. 
  • 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets he's been told Santana isn't coming to Twins with the hangup being length of contract (Santana wants one year and the Twins want three years).